Women who have more sex may enter the menopause later - new research

Having less sex linked to earlier menopause

Published by the Royal Society Open Science, the study showed that women who reported weekly physical intimacy over a decade were about 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who reported less-than-monthly sexual activity.

Women who have sex at least once per month are less likely to enter early menopause compared to those who have sex less frequently, according to a new study, which followed almost 3,000 US women for a decade.

Scientists at University College London even found that sexual activity did not have to include a partner - and in fact there was no link between later menopause and marriage, or the presence of a man.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer is chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. Reading over the new findings, he noted that prior studies have found that married women tend to enter menopause later than single women.

According to the study's first author, PhD candidate Megan Arnot: "The findings of our study suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body "chooses" not to invest in ovulation, as it would be pointless". There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren. If pregnancy was unlikely due to a lack of sexual activity, that means it wouldn't be beneficial for the body to allocate energy to the ovulation process.

Known as SWAN, the project was created to collect data and track changes - both biological and psychological - that occur alongside menopause. Interviews were carried out over a 10-year period. For one, a menopausal woman is more likely to have a cardiovascular disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. They had two children on average; 78 percent were married or in a relationship; 68 percent were living with their partners.

The most frequent pattern of sexual activity was weekly, at 64 percent. However, about 46 percent started to experience the transition to menopause when the study started, reporting symptoms of period changes and hot flashes.

By modelling the relationship between sexual frequency and the age of natural menopause, women of any age who had sex weekly had a hazard ratio of 0.72, whereas women of any age who had sex monthly had a hazard ratio of 0.81.

Participants who were sexually active weekly had a 28 percent lower chance of naturally entering this stage of their lives, compared with those who had some form of sex once a month or less. Likewise, those who had sex monthly were 19% less likely to experience menopause at any given age compared to those who had sex less than monthly.

The team said their work also debunked the hypothesis that being exposed to a male partner's pheromones may affect the timing of the menopause.

Though of course there is no behavioural or medical intervention that can delay the menopause completely - it is a biological inevitability at some point for all women.



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